It's no exaggeration to suggest that UFC heavyweight Pat Barry is on the short list of the most accessible, down-to-earth and interactive professional athletes in the world.
He's got a self-deprecating and playful sense of humor and manifests via social networking sites with a series of clever (and, in all honesty, some not-so-clever) videos and jokes.
But that doesn't mean his Twitter timeline isn't filled with a series of x-rated and derisive comments.
It's his welcome to the modern world, where any bit of notoriety brings the keyboard warriors out in droves, frequently with a cutting remark or expletive-filled tirades about how he approaches his job.
"People are going to hate your guts no matter what," said Barry, who meets Lavar Johnson in what figures to be a lights-out heavyweight match Saturday on the UFC on Fox 3 card at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. "There are people out there who, whenever I make a Twitter video or Twitter post, which I do on my cell phone – which has no editing and which come on the spur of the moment and which are usually 10-second clips – they will say right away, 'Hey, instead of making Twitter videos, why aren't you training?' "
The gregarious Barry, who ranks among the top-10 percent of most exciting fighters in mixed martial arts, can only sigh at such responses.
It's a never-win situation. Ignore the fan base and you're derided as aloof and arrogant. Interact and you're ripped, often profanely and almost always without reason.
"How do you respond when someone makes a comment like that to you?" Barry said. "I guess it should be, 'Uh, yeah, you're right. All of the top-level fighters live on the gym mat. They wake up in the gym. They train 20 hours a day and then go to sleep and wake back up in the gym. They have no social lives. They don't have any family, no kids. No car driving, no grocery shopping. They don't even eat. They just sit there and they train 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"I don't know where people come up with this stuff. Where do they get the impression we can't have a life outside from punching and kicking or of wrestling and jiu-jitsu. You're always going to get that, but I don't know why people have that perception. They somehow seem to think if I post a 10-second video clip that I'm not taking my career seriously. Really?"
Barry was a renowned striker with rudimentary ground skills when he entered the UFC in 2008. And while no one would ever compare his jiu-jitsu or his ground game to Royce Gracie, it's not as if he hasn't made progress.
Barry, though, has the short, thick and wide body that is built to deliver – and take – knockout blows.
He's 4-4 in the UFC and only one of his fights has gone to a decision. He's scored knockouts over Dan Evensen at UFC 92; Antoni Hardonk at UFC 104; and Christian Morecraft at UFC on FX 1. He's been submitted by Tim Hague at UFC 98; Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic at UFC 115 and Stefan Struve at UFC Live 6. He was knocked out by Cheick Kongo in one of 2011's greatest fights.
His only decision came in a slugfest with Joey Beltran on Jan. 22, 2011, at UFC Fight for the Troops 2.
"What happened there is, we didn't want to put on a good fight and see someone get knocked the [expletive] out," Barry said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. "We just wanted to put on a long and boring fight and [expletive] everybody off."
If anybody is angry after his fight with Johnson on Saturday, it's likely because they bet the wrong side. If ever there were a fight that on paper looked like it would be the heavyweight version of Forrest Griffin-Stephan Bonnar I, it's Barry-Johnson.
It has to be the odds-on favorite to win Knockout of the Night.
"We're both the same in that we love to throw hands and pretty much everything we throw is hard," Johnson said.
Barry almost can't help himself. There are times when he should fight safe and be more prudent in looking for openings for his shots.
He's going all-out from the opening minutes, and because he does that he's likely to never be in danger of getting a pink slip. If there is anything that UFC president Dana White loves, it's a slugfest between two big guys.
Barry goes out each time looking more than anything else to put on a show.
"I don't go into any of my fights thinking, 'This is the one. If I don't win this fight, I'm going to get fired,' " Barry said. "I go into my fights believing that, win or lose, I'm going to put on a show and if I'm going to get fired for how I'm about to perform, then too bad, because there's nothing I can do about that.
"I don't want to be the throw-one-punch-and-then-run-for-14-minutes guy. I guarantee you, I could land one jab on somebody's head and then avoid them completely until the fight is over, but who wants to see that?
"I'm also a fan, and I know that's not what I want to see," he continued. "When I step into the Octagon, I know I'm coming to perform and I'm going to put on a show. I go out there looking to destroy someone. The way I see it, I'm either going to win spectacularly or lose in unbelievable fashion. It's a show. It's entertainment. And I take seriously trying to put on a show."
Win or lose, though, only one thing is certain: He'll get a lot of grief on his social networking sites the minute he gets back in front of his computer.
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